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VCU Health System Authority Board of Directors

2023-2024 Members

Unless otherwise noted, all meetings are held in The Honorable Benjamin Lambert, III Board Room, 1213 Clay Street, Richmond, VA.

You can view each board member's full biography by clicking their name to expand.

Lamont BagbyThe Honorable Lamont Bagby has served the community that raised him as an elected official for the past sixteen years, including eight years on the Henrico County School Board and eight years in the House of Delegates. He is currently the chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.

Prior to serving in the General Assembly, Senator Bagby was a teacher, administrator, school board member at his alma mater Henrico High School and served on the leadership team at the Peter Paul Development Center. There, Senator Bagby worked to create resources and programs to educate the child, engage the family and empower the community.

As a member of the House and Chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, Senator Bagby has worked across the aisle and championed legislation focused on stopping the school-to-prison pipeline, creating affordable housing and championing criminal justice reforms, voting rights, environmental justice, consumer protections and more.

Delegate Bagby earned his bachelor’s degree from Norfolk State University and Master of Education from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Bhardwaj_Hem_7703Dr. Bhardwaj calls Virginia home. She completed her undergraduate training at the College of William and Mary. She pursued her medical education and Internal Medicine residency at the University of Virginia and her Cardiovascular Fellowship here at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Dr. Bhardwaj is an Associate Professor of Medicine. She wears many hats at VCU. Notably, she is the Director of the Cardiology Inpatient and Consultation Services, Director of Adult Echocardiography, and Director of Cardiovascular Quality Improvement and Safety. Understanding the importance and necessity of continued growth in one’s career, she is currently enrolled in the Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute here at VCU. Her clinical work includes attending on the general Cardiology inpatient services and in the Coronary Intensive Care Unit, as well as participating in several outpatient clinics. Additionally, she supervises and reads echocardiograms, stress tests, and cardiac MRIs. Her priorities, in her leadership roles, include optimizing clinical operations, ensuring patient centered care, and ensuring focus on quality improvement and safety here at VCU. Dr. Bhardwaj enjoys teaching residents and fellows, as well as M2 students and was recently awarded Best Teacher in the M2 Cardiovascular course.

Joel Bieber, Esq.Mr. Bieber is the founder of The Joel Bieber Firm, a personal injury and pharmaceutical law firm based in Richmond and Virginia Beach, Virginia; with additional offices in Maryland, South Carolina, Maryland, West Virginia, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.

Mr. Bieber notes that one side of his family are farmers and the other side is filled with preachers. That is why he describes his upbringing as, “I know how to milk a cow and am comfortable in a church or a barn.” He also notes that he enjoys playing ping pong outside on windy days.

During college Mr. Bieber served both as a Congressional aide and a legislative aide in the Virginia General Assembly. He received his undergraduate degree in Political Science from Old Dominion University and his Law degree from Oklahoma City University. He is admitted to practice in Virginia and South Carolina, the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia, South US District Court of South Carolina, the 4th Circuit US Court of Appeals, and has waived into several other states to handle cases across the United States.

Charity work is near and dear to Mr. Bieber’s heart. He has served as Advisory Board member for Crossover Ministries and has been a Spokesman for United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and Richmond Hero, an animal protection organization. He is also active with Caritas, the National Kidney Foundation of the Virginia’s, and the Brain Injury Association of Virginia.

He also is a member of the North American Brain Injury Society (NABIS) and was recognized for his work in the dedication to advancement in the field of brain injury by receiving their Founders Award (now known as the Robert Voogt Founders Award).

Some of Mr. Bieber’s hobbies include reading, chess, exercise and watching lots of sports; that includes the Orioles, Wizards and Colts, and continues to work to not be an embarrassment on the golf course. His mom was an avid Washington Football Team fan, which also causes him to root for Washington, in memory of his mom.

He and his wife, Jackey, were married in Williamsburg, Virginia. They are passionate about organizations that focus on organ donation and transplantation. In 2008, Joel had a kidney transplant. His donor was … his wife.

Mary CantorDiana Cantor’s vast and diverse career experiences span the investment, financial and business management, and legal arenas. She is a member of the Investment Committee and the Board of Managers of Alternative Investment Management, LLC, an independent, privately held investment management firm. She also serves as a Senior Adviser with AKF Consulting Group, focusing on the areas of governance, fiduciary duties and oversight of state-run investment programs.

Previously, she was a Managing Director of New York Private Bank & Trust and served for over a decade as the founding Chief Executive Officer of the Virginia College Savings Plan, the state agency that administers Virginia’s Section 529 college savings plans. She held the position of Vice President at Goldman, Sachs & Co. in New York, serving as chief administrator of the firm’s leveraged buyout and internal investment funds and merchant banking/principal investment operations and practiced law in the real estate department of the New York office of Kaye Scholer (now Arnold & Porter). In addition, Ms. Cantor is a Past Chairman of the Board and served for over ten years as a Trustee of the Virginia Retirement System.

Ms. Cantor is currently a director of three public companies: Domino’s Pizza, Inc., VICI Properties, Inc., and Universal Corporation. She also serves on the private company boards of Mauser Packaging Solutions and SCP Retirement Services.

Ms. Cantor is a past director of the public company boards of Revlon, Inc., Media General, Inc., and The Edelman Financial Group Inc., and a past director of the private company boards of Edelman Financial Services, Knowledge Universe, Service King Collision Centers, Vistage International, and Adore Me.

Ms. Cantor is an Advisory Board member of Stone Canyon Industries and Cerity Partners. She also serves on the non-profit governing Boards of the YMCA of Greater Richmond, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System Authority.

Ms. Cantor is a Certified Public Accountant and member of the State Bar in Virginia, Florida, and New York. She has an undergraduate degree from the University of Florida’s School of Accounting, a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Miami, and a law degree from New York University.

Laurence DiNardo, MDDr. DiNardo graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Suma Cum Laude, from Middlebury College. He attended medical school at Stanford University School of Medicine prior to pursuing his residency in Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. DiNardo joined the faculty in the Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1991 and currently serves as the Darlene and George P. Emerson Jr. Professor and Chair. He leads the top ranked otolaryngology/head and neck surgery program in the State of Virginia and Washington D.C. according to recent US News and World Report reviews. He also serves as the interim Chair of Dermatology for Virginia Commonwealth University Health System.

His clinical and research interests include head and neck cancer and advanced endoscopic sinus and skull base surgical techniques. He has received several clinical awards including ranking as a “Top Doctor in Richmond” in 2000-2023 according to Richmond Magazine. He has been counted amongst “America's Top Physicians" in 2003-2018, 2023 and recognized by “US News and World Report Best Doctors in America” 2005-2023. Dr. DiNardo was also named to Castle Connolly’s “Best Doctors and Best Doctors for Cancer” on multiple occasions. In addition, he was named to “The Leading Physicians of The World” by the International Association of Healthcare Professionals (IAHCP), 2012-13. He has been nominated for Clinician of the Year at Virginia Commonwealth University Health System seven times and has been elected to the faculty AOA society at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.

He has served or continues to serve on 93 major committees, including two terms on the MCVP Board of Directors and as chair of several chair and high-level executive position searches for the School of Medicine. He has authored or co-authored 55 papers, 14 book chapters, 8 instructional publications, and 71 abstracts. Dr. DiNardo has completed over 200 invited lectures and presentations.

Dr. DiNardo is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and past President of the Virginia Chapter of the American College of Surgeons. He completed a 2-year term on the Executive Council of the Society of University Otolaryngologists/Head and Neck Surgeons. He is the past President and past Chairman of the Board of the Virginia Society of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery and completed two terms on the Board of Governors representing Virginia for the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery.

George EmersonGeorge founded the Emerson Companies in 1978 in his hometown of Chester, VA. Since then, he has built a company and a brand that is known for creating premier commercial, industrial, and residential properties. Today, he is the leader of the company, and is active and engaged in all aspects of the company’s strategy and operations.

In addition to his role at the Emerson Companies, George serves and supports many local organizations and nonprofit initiatives, including time on the boards of the VCU Real Estate Foundation, VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center, VCU Medical Center, Community Memorial Hospital Board of Directors and Henricus Park, and is the founder of The Highlands Massey Classic which benefits the Massey Cancer Center.

George earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from VCU in 1978.

Ellen FitzsimmonsEllen Fitzsimmons is chief legal officer and head of public affairs at Truist Financial Corporation, the nation’s premier financial services company serving approximately 15 million households. She has held this position since December 2019 and is a member of the company’s executive leadership team.

In her role, she oversees the legal, government relations, corporate communications, corporate social responsibility, and philanthropy functions of Truist.

Fitzsimmons was named corporate executive vice president and general counsel for a Truist predecessor in January 2018. She also served as corporate secretary to the predecessor’s board of directors.

Previously, she served as executive vice president of law and public affairs, general counsel, and corporate secretary of CSX Corporation, a transportation company headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. She oversaw legal affairs, government relations, corporate communications, security, environmental, audit, and corporate social responsibilities functions. She joined CSX in 1991 after starting her legal career with the law firm of Hunton & Williams in Richmond, Virginia.

Fitzsimmons earned a Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center and a bachelor’s degree in communications from Virginia Tech.

She is a member of the Virginia Bar and currently serves on the board of Ameren Corporation, the board of directors of Friends of the High Line, and the board of visitors of Virginia Commonwealth University. She is also a member of the 2021 Scales of Justice Steering Committee.

Fitzsimmons was honored by American Banker in 2019, 2020, and 2021 for her selection in the publication’s annual Most Powerful Women in Banking “Women to Watch” list.

Richard R. GrinnanRichard Grinnan is Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Secretary at Markel Group Inc., a diverse family of companies that includes everything from bakery equipment, building supplies, houseplants and more, with its specialty insurance business sitting at the core of the company.

In his role, Mr. Grinnan is a strategic leader and advisor who oversees the legal affairs of a global holding company with business operations in over 30 countries and over $15 billion in annual revenue. He is a collaborative and effective communicator who works closely with senior management teams, boards of directors, regulators, and external stakeholders to achieve business objectives, meet compliance requirements, and mitigate risks.

Previously, Mr. Grinnan served as Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Assistant Secretary at Alpha Natural Resources, Inc. and prior to that as Vice President and Corporate Secretary at Massey Energy Company. He started his legal career as an Associate at McGuireWoods LLP.

Mr. Grinnan earned a bachelors of arts degree from the University of Virginia in 1990, having graduated with distinction, majoring in History and minoring in Religious Studies. In 2000, he graduated from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business with a masters in business administration and from the University of Virginia’s School of Law with a juris doctorate.


Dr. Lance Hampton currently serves as a Professor of Surgery/Urology and as the Division Chief of Urology at VCU Health where he has worked for the last 16 years. Prior to his arrival at VCU, Dr. Hampton completed his medical education at Texas Tech University and his urology residency at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Hampton then joined a small private urology practice in the beautiful mountain city of Flagstaff, Arizona. It was in Flagstaff, that Dr. Hampton’s passion for patient care and improving health care for his community began. He was able to expand the role of minimally invasive cancer surgery for patients in northern Arizona including the Native American Hopi and Navajo nations. During this time, he served on the medical executive board of Flagstaff Medical Center and on countless community organizations. He also was on the editorial board of the Arizona Daily Sun.

Following his passion for oncology care and minimally invasive surgery, Dr. Hampton then completed an advanced urologic oncology and robotic surgery fellowship at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California and accepted the position of Director of Robotic Surgery at VCU Health in 2008. While at VCU, Dr. Hampton has been instrumental in expanding the indications for robotic surgery to include numerous different surgical services including urology, gynecology, pediatric surgery, transplant surgery, and thoracic surgery. VCU is now recognized as one of the preeminent robotic surgery centers in the US. Having performed over 2000 cases himself, Dr. Hampton continues to innovate surgical options for patients of central Virginia.

Dr. Hampton currently holds the Barbara and William Thalhimer Eminent Scholar Professorship in urology and has been the Division Chief of Surgical Urology for over a decade and has seen the urology faculty grow to 13 faculty and multiple practice locations. Because of his deep respect for our nation’s veterans, he has maintained a surgical practice at the Central Virginia Veteran’s Hospital (previously Hunter McGuire VA Hospital) for 16 years as well.  He currently serves as Vice Chair for Veteran’s Affairs for the VCU Department of Surgery.

Outside of urology, Dr. Hampton’s passions include philanthropy to multiple organizations including VCU Health, VCU athletics, and the YMCA. He and his wife, Suzie, have personally established and funded an endowment to increase the number of underrepresented minority urology residents at VCU and elsewhere. Dr. Hampton was instrumental in establishing a relationship between VCU Health and Hue University School of Medicine and Pharmacy in Hue, Vietnam. Personally, Lance and Suzie have been married 32 years and have one son, Davis, who is a proud recent graduate of the VCU Richard Robertson School of Media and Culture.

Todd P. HaymoreTodd P. Haymore leads Hunton Andrews Kurth’s Global Economic development, Commerce and Government Relations practice group. Having worked at the intersection of business and government in various public- and private-sector leadership positions, he provides strategic advice and helps guide companies through the most vexing challenges relating to business expansion or relocation within Virginia, throughout the United States, and abroad.

Mr. Haymore previously served as Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce & Trade and Secretary of Agriculture & Forestry under Governors Terry McAuliffe and Bob McDonnell, and Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services under Governor Tim Kaine. In these roles, he worked to promote Virginia businesses here and abroad and attracted domestic and foreign business investments to Virginia. Mr. Haymore also partnered with private-sector companies, regional entities and local, state and federal government officials to grow exports from Virginia and implement economic development strategies, including the creation of new and highly impactful economic development incentive programs.

Prior to his service in state government, Mr. Haymore held several leadership positions in the private sector, including serving as head of external affairs, government relations, and corporate communications for two Fortune 1000 companies, Universal Leaf Tobacco Company and DIMON Incorporated. Mr. Haymore also led Universal’s foundation, working with colleagues to devise and execute strategies to improve the company’s philanthropic efforts. In addition, Mr. Haymore served as a key legislative and communications advisor to former U.S. Congressman L. F. Payne.

Regarded as a leader in economic development in Virginia, Mr. Haymore is a member of the Washington Airports Task Force Board of Directors, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and the Virginia FREE Board of Directors. He earned his master of business administration from Virginia Commonwealth University and received his bachelor of arts from the University of Richmond.

A Danville-Pittsylvania County native, Mr. Haymore resides in Henrico County with his wife, Margaret, and three daughters.

Fay ManoliosFay Manolios is Managing Vice President, Head of Total Rewards for Capital One Financial Corporation. The Total Rewards organization includes Compensation, Recognition, Benefits, and Global Mobility for more than 50,000 associates. A champion of empowering associates to live their best lives, Fay leads a team focused on the design and delivery of programs and experiences that work together to support associates’ total well-being.

With over 25 years of experience in Human Resources, Fay has built a career driven by a passion to create value for the associates she serves and the businesses she supports. During her time at Capital One, Fay has championed the effort to raise the minimum wage for hourly workers, helped the company achieve dollar-for-dollar pay equity across gender and race, harnessed the power of analytics to assess front line associate health outcomes and set the vision for reimagining benefits experiences for Capital One associates around the globe.

Fay serves on the Board of Directors of the Neighborhood Resource Center of Greater Fulton and is a mentor with Startup Virginia. Fay served on the Advisory Board of Fringe, a Richmond-based startup working to put benefits choices in the hands of the consumer. She attended St. John’s University in New York before she moved to Greece where she received her Bachelor of Arts from The American College of Greece.

Prior to joining Capital One, Fay held a number of Human Resources roles at organizations including Citibank, Accenture and SunTrust. She grew up in New York and now resides in Richmond, VA with her husband, Paul, and enjoy spending time exploring local restaurants, cycling on the Capital Trail and visiting local wineries.

Rev. Tyrone NelsonRev. Tyrone E. Nelson serves as the seventh pastor of Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia. His ministry started with his service as a youth minister for two churches and the position of director of youth and evangelism ministries for the Baptist General Convention of Virginia. Rev. Nelson has been the recipient of several awards, most recently the 2017 Alpha Phi Alpha Community Service Award.

Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register, has more than 150 years of rich history yet continues to adapt to the needs of the 21st century. With Rev. Nelson as leader, the congregation has focused on addressing issues impacting the underserved in the community. Outreach efforts include canceling worship in order for members to do random acts of kindness and hosting conferences that address topics such as domestic violence.

Rev. Nelson has a heart for working to meet the needs of people, especially those who are overlooked and under-privileged. In November 2011, the Rev. Nelson was elected by the citizens of Henrico County (Varina District) to serve as its supervisor. He is the first African-American elected official in the district’s history and only the second African-American supervisor in Henrico County. He has served as board chairperson and vice-chair.

Since being elected, Rev. Nelson oversaw the construction of the new Varina Library, advocated for Team Excel's move to the "old" Varina Library, opened An Achievable Dream Academy at Highland Springs Elementary School, started the Henrico Citizens Academy, led effort to purchase 100 acres for the Sports Park in Sandston.

A native of Richmond, after completing his public school education, the Rev. Nelson earned his Associate of Science in business administration from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Master of Divinity from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University. Rev. Nelson and his wife, Sharaza, have three children: Tyrone Jr., Sydney, and Makenzie.

Leadership_Rao_July2019_UnivRel_EditedMichael Rao, Ph.D., became the fifth president of Virginia Commonwealth University and VCU Health System in 2009.

In this role, President Rao leads a nationally premier, urban public research university with a comprehensive medical center and a Level I trauma center that is among the best in the commonwealth. VCU educates more than 31,000 students from 101 countries in more than 220 degree and certificate programs. As the largest employer in the Richmond area and sixth largest in the commonwealth, VCU’s economic impact on Virginia exceeds $6 billion annually. Additionally, VCUarts Qatar — located in Doha’s Education City — is internationally recognized for excellence in art and design.

Guided by its current strategic plan, Quest 2025: Together We Transform, the university will refocus the undergraduate student experience, strengthen educator and researcher compensation, increase national prominence through research, improve the patient experience, and meet the goal set for our largest capital campaign in university history.

Under President Rao’s leadership, VCU’s place among national research universities continues to rise. U.S. News & World Report ranks 22 graduate programs in the top 50. Consistently recognized for excellence, VCUart’s sculpture program and the College of Health Profession’s nurse anesthesia program are the best in the nation at No.1. The university is ranked no. 20 and no. 38, respectively, by the National Institutes of Health for addiction studies and neuroscience research. VCU is designated as being “Community Engaged” with “Very High Research Activity” by the Carnegie Foundation.

Classified as a Tier III institution with the highest level of financial authority by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, VCU educates and graduates more Pell-eligible and first-generation college-going students than its Tier III counterparts in the commonwealth combined.
With the addition of over 5.3 million square feet, President Rao has overseen one of the largest-ever expansions of VCU’s footprint through the construction of living-learning environments, academic meeting spaces and state-of-the-art clinical and laboratory facilities. With guidance from the university’s master facility plan, ONE VCU, improved transit access to VCU and VCU Health for students and employees has been implemented. A soon-to-be constructed STEM facility will expand existing lab space and support innovative teaching methods.

President Rao serves as chair of the Virginia Council of Presidents and the Virginia Bio+Tech Partnership Authority. He also serves as chair of the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities and he is its representative for the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. He is a senior advisory board member of the Northern Virginia Technology Council and is the board secretary for the American Council on Education.

President Rao has been in higher education administration for more than 25 years, beginning in California in 1992, when he became president of Mission College. At the time, he was the youngest college president in the nation. He went on to serve as chancellor of Montana State University – Northern and president of Central Michigan University.

President Rao holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida and a Ph.D. from the University of Florida. He and his wife, Monica — a watercolorist and graphic designer — have two sons.

Bimaljit S. Sandhu, MDDr. Bimaljit S. Sandhu is a board-certified Gastroenterologist at Richmond Gastroenterology Associates.

He cares for patients suffering from gastroenterological disorders, including GERD, Barrett’s esophagus, GI cancer, and pancreatic disease. He has vast experience performing colonoscopy, EGD, complex therapeutic endoscopic procedures, and managing patients with GI cancer and pancreaticobiliary disorders.

After his medical school training, Dr. Sandhu completed additional fellowship training in Gastroenterology and Hepatology. He then joined the VCU Medical Center faculty in the Gastroenterology Division. During the next nine years at VCU, he served as Director of Pancreatic Disorders and actively participated in pancreatic research.

Dr. Sandhu’s patients benefit from his experience with the most recent advancements in gastroenterology. He is among the first in the country to use endoscopic Glue Injection for treating patients with bleeding gastric varices. He is also skilled in the use of Cellvizio®, which enables him to diagnose cancer much more rapidly. Most recently he completed specialty training to perform Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication (TIF), one of only a few physicians in Virginia to offer this procedure for the treatment of GERD.

Dr. Sandhu has received several honors and awards, including the Outstanding Clinician Award and the Best Plenary Session Paper Award. He is an active member of the North American Pancreatitis Study consortium. He has authored and co-authored several articles in medical journals and books, including the Gastroenterology journal.

He has also contributed to the American Gastroenterological Association’s Digestive Diseases Self-Education Program (DDSEP) and served on the training committee for the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG).

Dr. Sandhu has been a visiting professor at Johns Hopkins, the University of Pittsburgh, Stanford University, and the University of Virginia. Dr. Sandhu is a “2017 Top Doc” winner in Richmond Magazine’s annual survey of medical professionals.

Dr. Sandhu enjoys spending time with his wife, Ramnita, and their three children. He has organized several blood donation drives and food services at local nursing homes and schools on behalf of his Sikh temple in Richmond. He enjoys tennis, jogging, music, and yard work.

R. Wes Shepherd, MDDr. Wes Shepherd is Professor of Interventional Pulmonology, Associate Professor of Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine, Internal Medicine and has an appointment as Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery. He provides clinical services in the Medical Respiratory ICU, the Interventional Pulmonology (IP) procedure consult service, the general Pulmonary Clinic, and as part of the multidisciplinary Chest Tumor Clinic in Massey Cancer Center.

Over the past 14 years, Dr. Shepherd has developed our Interventional Pulmonology Program into the most comprehensive interventional pulmonology program in Virginia and one of the preeminent programs in the country. Interventional Pulmonology specializes in the management of patients with both benign and malignant complex airway disease, advanced diagnostic techniques of the chest, and pleural disease. These services are vital for patients with a broad range of complex acute and chronic illnesses, and Dr. Shepherd has met this need with the recruitment of expert faculty, development of a research program, and creation of an IP Fellowship, now in its ninth year.

The success of this program is a testament to Dr. Shepherd’s dedication to effective interdisciplinary care, strong patient and physician communication, and his strong and personal commitment to his patients. A particular strength is ongoing communication with referring physicians so that they can more easily access services, remain up-to-date on the health status of their patients, and feel that they are working with caregivers at VCUHS as a team.

“He strives to accommodate his patients’ needs and to perform all of these duties with compassion and the highest integrity,” observes his colleague, Alpha “Berry” Fowler, M.D., William Taliaferro Professor of Medicine.


  • Pulmonary Disease 2002-2012, 2013 - present
  • Critical Care Medicine 2004-2014, 2014 - present
  • Interventional Pulmonology 2013 - present (Diplomate of the American Association for Bronchology and Interventional Pulmonology)

Awards and Honors

  • 2017 American College of Chest Physicians: - Distinguished Chest Educator (DCE) recognition - awarded to top 5% of CHEST faculty for contribution to educational endeavors
  • 2017 Richmond Magazine Top Doctors Edition in Pulmonary Medicine
  • 2016 Richmond Magazine Top Doctors Edition in Pulmonary Medicine
  • 2015 Richmond Magazine Top Doctors Edition in Pulmonary Medicine
  • 2014 Richmond Magazine Top Doctors Edition in Pulmonary Medicine (overall top vote recipient)
  • 2013 Richmond Magazine Top Doctors Edition in Pulmonary Medicine
  • 2012 Richmond Magazine Top Doctors Edition in Pulmonary Medicine
  • 2012 Best Doctors in Virginia: Virginia Living Magazine
  • 2011 William B Porter Outstanding Clinician Award VCUMC Internal Medicine
  • 2011-2012 Best Doctors in America
  • 2011 Virginia Living Magazine Top Doctors in Pulmonary Medicine
  • 2011 Richmond Magazine Top Doctors Edition in Pulmonary Medicine
  • 2010 Richmond Magazine Top Doctors Edition in Pulmonary Medicine
  • 2009 Faculty Distinguished Clinical Care Award

Wally R. Smith, MDWally R. Smith, MD is the Florence Neal Cooper Smith Professor of Sickle Cell Disease at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). He also serves as the Vice-Chairman for Research of the Division of General Internal Medicine and is the former Scientific Director of the Center on Health Disparities at VCU. Dr. Smith is an experienced implementation scientist and an expert in clinical and health services research in sickle cell disease. He has authored over 100 publications, and served as an investigator on over 50 externally funded grants and contracts. Dr. Smith has been associated with the development of two potential lead compounds for sickle cell disease at VCU.

Wijesooriya_2433Romesh Wijesooriya is an Assistant Professor of General Pediatrics at CHoR. He has served as the Division Chair of General Pediatrics since 2014. Additionally, he serves as the Medical Director for the Pediatric Primary Care Clinic at CHoR, he is an Assistant Medical Director for Telehealth at VCUHS and is a founding Board Member of the Virginia Children's Care Network (VCCN).

Romesh received his BA in Religious Studies with a minor in Biology in 1999 from The University of Virginia where he was an Echol's Scholar and a Jefferson Scholar. After graduating, he spent one year working at a hospital and orphanage in Jos, Nigeria before returning to The University of Virginia for Medical School. He received his MD from UVA in 2004 and he completed his pediatric residency training at VCUHS in 2007. He served as Chief Resident for one year and subsequently joined the faculty of VCUHS in 2008. He has been board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics since 2007. Due to his interest in pediatric obesity, he pursued and received his certification from the American Board of Obesity Medicine in 2015. In 2016 he attended the Harvard Leadership Development Program for Physicians in Academic Health Centers.

During his time as the Division Chair, the Division of General Pediatrics has expanded from 14 pediatric providers (MDs and NPs) in 2014 to 22 providers (MDs and NPs) in 2020. Additionally, since 2014, the division has seen steady and clear year over year growth in patient volumes (76% increase in patient volumes over 7 years), profit margins, new program development, program expansion, research funding and activity, and educational activity. This clear growth in clinical, educational and research activity and productivity within the division has led to many members of the division Wijesooriya, Niran Romesh 11 of 13 being appointed to leadership roles and responsibilities at the institutional, local, regional and national levels.

Romesh maintains a primary focus on clinical care of patients in both the outpatient and inpatient settings. His special interests include medical education of residents and medical students, family-centered care, access to quality health care for patients and families who exist in lower socioeconomic environments, obesity in the pediatric population, and telehealth.

As a general pediatrician who has practiced medicine (and lives) in an urban, low-income, and under-resourced community since 2004, Romesh has had to grapple with the reality and challenges of health disparities for low-income communities. He has come to recognize that these disparities are generational and systemic in nature. Romesh is committed to improving health outcomes by changing the systems (medical, financial, educational, social, law enforcement, etc.) that have created and perpetuate these disparities.

Romesh has also developed a niche interest in Telehealth. In 2019 he was appointed as the Assistant Medical Director of Telehealth at VCUHS and has been part of the team that helped to manage a 5000% growth in telehealth volumes at VCUHS during the COVID-19 crisis. Romesh believes that telehealth if managed and appropriated and wisely, has a unique opportunity to enable health care to be more patient-centered, cost-effective, collaborative and accessible.

Romesh is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, The Obesity Society, and Alpha Omega Alpha. He has been recognized for his excellence as a medical educator on numerous occasions including being voted the "Best Teacher" in the Pediatric Clerkship on 2 separate occasions. He has received a number of different accolades for his clinical work including being named to Richmond Magazine's "Top Docs" list annually since 2012. While Romesh has primarily been recognized for his work as a clinician, a medical educator and a physician leader, he has also been able to partner with leading researchers on numerous research projects. He has been invited to collaborate on grant-funded research projects evaluating topics including pediatric obesity, medical education, telehealth, and maternal and infant microbiomes. The findings of these various research projects have been presented at national conferences and published in highly regarded peer review journals including Nature Medicine.

Throughout his career, Romesh has been actively involved in serving the Department of Pediatrics, the VCU School of Medicine, the VCU Health System and the University. He has served on a number of different committees since joining the VCUHS faculty in 2008. He has also repeatedly been invited to join strategic planning initiatives for the Department and the Health System. Most recently, he participated in CHoR Pediatric Clinically Integrated Network (CIN) Taskforce that resulted in the formation of the Virginia Children's Care Network (VCCN) in 2020. The VCCN is the first pediatric-focused CIN in central Virginia and the first CIN involving the VCU Health System. Romesh is currently serving as a founding board member for the VCCN.

Romesh is joyfully married to Lawson and they are the proud parents of 2 energetic Wijesooriya, Niran Romesh 12 of 13 boys. He lives in Church Hill in downtown Richmond. He has been and continues to be deeply committed to his neighborhood and the City of Richmond. He has participated and led a number of different community-based initiatives seeking to address economic and health disparities. From 2005 - 2015 he served as president of Urban Hope, an affordable housing non-profit in the city of Richmond committed to preserving affordable housing for economically challenged urban families in the City of Richmond. From 2011 - 2017 he served on the PTA committee overseeing the application and implementation of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at the neighborhood elementary school (Chimborazo Elementary) that his children attended and recently graduated from. He is a founding member of East End Fellowship, a multi-ethnic, economically diverse Christian church located in the east end of Richmond that is committed to "seeking the welfare of the city".

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